Episode 84: Business Lessons Learned, With Misty Lown

What You Will Learn:

  • How Misty created More Than Just Great Dancing’s affiliate licensing program which now has 265+ affiliate studios serving more than 100,000 students per week
  • Misty shares key business lessons learned while growing her affiliate business, and why your business needs a higher Purpose
  • Why Misty’s focus is on teaching skills and mindset that people can take with them long after they stop taking dance lessons, and why making a lifelong impact is key
  • How getting clear on the hiring and training process and baking in the organization’s Values was crucial in growing More Than Just Great Dancing
  • Misty shares a story of how targeting the right change and lifting everyone on your team up can be truly transformative
  • Misty shares another story of a student who took a summer job selling knives during the pandemic and explains how the company’s higher Purpose made a lasting impression
  • How Misty made the jump from running a dance studio to building a company focused on licensing her methods to others, and what building that team looked like
  • Why Misty’s team spends 80% of their time on “whirlwinds” and the other 20% of the time on “initiative” tasks, and how they use KPIs to measure their progress
  • How Misty uses internal dashboards and coaching to help ensure that everyone is moving the needle forward in their business
  • Why collaboration across the team and working toward a shared Vision for the company is the key to getting buy-in
  • Why a vital business lesson learned by Misty during the growth of her business is that a leader’s job isn’t to be responsible for and capable in everything

 

About Misty Lown

Misty Lown is the founder, president, and energized force behind More Than Just Great Dancing® – A licensed dance studio affiliation program that has a positive impact on over 100,000 dance students around the globe each week. She is also the owner of Youth Protection Advocates in Dance – an educational company.

Her dance studio, Misty’s Dance Unlimited, founded in 1998 and named a “Top 50 Studios in the Nation” by Dance Spirit Magazine has provided $500,000 in scholarship for dancers. Misty has been a speaker for every major dance industry event and has authored over 100 industry articles.

She is a sought-after speaker and business leader. She has been recognized as “Teacher of the Year” by Eclipse, “Outstanding Businesswoman of the Year” by the YWCA and awarded the “Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service” by Viterbo University, the “Philanthropy Award” from the local Red Cross, the “President’s Award” from the La Crosse Area Development Corporation and the “President’s Award” from the Association of Professional Fundraisers.

Misty is an entrepreneur and builder at heart. In addition to her dance studio and licensing program, she owns a dancewear store, self-storage business and is a managing partner in a family real estate business. She is the author of One Small Yes an Amazon #1 Bestseller that has been translated to Korean and Indonesian. Misty’s favorite part of the day is spending time with her husband and five beautiful children.

 

Resources:

Website: https://mistylown.com/

More Than Just Great Dancing!® Website: https://morethanjustgreatdancing.com/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mistylown/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mistylownmentor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MoreThanJustGreatDancing

 

Additional Resources:

Elite Business Health Assessment: https://growwithelite.com/health

Email: info@GrowWithElite.com

Website: https://growwithelite.com/

Listen to the podcast here

I’m excited to be with Misty Lown. She is the Founder of More Than Just Great Dancing. I had the privilege of talking with her before this interview and I got to know what kind of person, entrepreneur, Founder, and CEO she is. I’m thrilled for all of you to get to learn from her and some of the great lessons that she’s figured out as she’s been growing her seven-figure business. Welcome to the show, Misty.

Brett, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

I told people what the name of your business is, but why don’t you share briefly what More Than Just Great Dancing is? In connection with that, I know that you’ve created a nonprofit. You’ve done some giving back, and I’d love to hear about that as well. Help people understand who you are in your business.

To give some proper context, first and foremost, I’m a teacher. I am the Owner of a dance studio for many years. We enroll 600 students now, 900 pre-pandemic and we’re on our way back there. It was because of that I started teaching, writing, and answering calls from other studio owners asking how we had done what seemed like the impossible.

We were producing great work. We were having great family-supporting jobs and we hadn’t burned out our own families. It was out of that More Than Just Great Dancing was born. What we did was put together in a package that made our studio special and made that available on a licensing basis for other studios. We now have 265 affiliated studios in 38 states and 7 countries, and those schools are serving about 100,000 kids per week.

It’s more than I could have asked for or imagined. Along the way, we also formalized our giving. We had been doing what most entrepreneurs do, which is answering to the needs of their community. We were sponsoring local school events and contributing where possible to our local festivals, different community needs, and our clients.

Dance, like most youth activities, has an expense associated with it. We wanted to be able to stand in the gap for kids that didn’t have access. I didn’t have a lot of access when I was a kid because of financial reasons. We gave and gave until we thought we should put some structure on that and founded A Chance to Dance Foundation on our fifteenth anniversary,

I love how you’ve named More Than Just Great Dancing. You have your own studios, as you talked about. It’s a place where kids come and get lessons. You did it, and then you’ve taught now and continue to share with hundreds of other dance studio owners how to make this thing go, which is fantastic. That’s great background.

It’s one thing to have a dance studio, and there’s only so much growth available in a local community dance studio. You get to a certain place and then you find that you have done something pretty special that others could learn from. You start to grow a bigger business. You get past that seven-figure mark and we want to honor that 0 to $1 million journey, but we won’t spend a lot of time there.

We’re going to talk about what you may have encountered that was perhaps unexpected for you once you get to that seven-figure mark. Maybe you thought you arrived or something and then there’s new stuff to learn. What were some of the unexpected things that came along after you had the initial success of creating a seven-figure business?

You could focus the answer in any number of areas, but I’ll give you a couple. Many entrepreneurs, because we’re always in that, “What’s next? What’s new? What’s bright? What’s shiny? What’s the next goal?” We are forward-driven people. There’s a moment of post-goal achievement. Maybe it’s a disappointment or depression that when you get there, nothing in particular changes.

The first goal was we needed 100 students. We went from 100 to 101 and nothing changed overnight. I still showed up, got my teaching outfit on, and did a great job. The same thing with financial. I remember very specifically when we had a goal to do $500,000 in revenue and you hit that 501 and nothing changed. It’s the same thing for hitting that seven-figure mark or a 900 enrollment mark.

I think what I’ve learned through the journey primarily is that that goal has to be tied to something more meaningful. For us, we’ve looked back and said, “If we get the mission piece right, the money piece follows.” We’ve released those early entrepreneur goals. If it has to be about a certain dollar revenue, when we get there, we will have arrived and we start saying, “If we serve our mission well enough, if we serve the market well enough, the money piece follows.” If that money piece follows, it ironically gives us a better opportunity to serve the market.

If we serve our mission well enough that it serves the market well enough, the money piece follows. If that money piece follows, it actually gives us a better opportunity to serve the market. Share on X

For me, having that cyclical view of the goal and understanding that that’s healthy and not a goal to grab and to stand on and arrive at has been a much healthier way of viewing the goals. Now all of these years later, we are running a healthy business. We are providing family, supporting jobs, and giving back to our community.

It’s because we had a mission that was so clear that we hit that market mark that now we’re able to give back and build from the ground up in terms of those family-supporting jobs and giving back to the community. To me, this full-circle view is much better than grabbing a goal and standing on it because it’s a little lonely and disappointing if you’re grabbing goals to stand on the achievement of them.

That moment passes, like you said. “We got to 501 enrollments. Okay, now what?” Set another way, I think what you were talking about that I want our readers to key in on because I think it’s critical, a purpose-driven nature to what you’re doing. Meaningfulness, meeting the market need, having a mission drive, why we do what we do and how we make decisions, ends up being the meaningful thing that allows the money stuff to follow. It doesn’t mean we don’t have financial goals. It means that’s not the headline. The headline is something more.

This is also not to discount that in those very early entrepreneurial days, I was very much necessarily financially focused because there were real problems to solve. We had a rent that was an amount that I had never dreamed of paying before. We were wrestling with payroll for the first time, then we bought a building and it’s like getting married to a mortgage.

There were real financially focused problems that we had to solve, but I realized very quickly in reaching those first near-term milestones that if that’s the only thing we’re celebrating, it’s simply not going to be enough power to stay in the game. It’s too much work to be an entrepreneur. If money’s the only game, there are easier ways to make money.

We say this in our coaching with dance school owners all the time. ‘If you’re only here for a paycheck, I don’t want to break it to you, but there are tall buildings with corporations and offices. You can check in at 9:00, leave at 5:00, and get a check on Friday. It sounds like a mythical land for somebody who is built with an entrepreneurial DNA, but that exists. If that’s the primary driver, there’s easier, probably better ways to get that done. If you’re here because you feel called, there’s a mission, you can’t sleep at night unless you build and create and serve, then you’ve got to keep that at the forefront and keep that as a piece of your matrix in measuring these goals.

The financial pieces, the operational goals and numbers, are necessary, but insufficient. We have to get everybody focused on the bigger picture. Let’s transition to that because we all heard very clearly for you how that shift needed to happen. What did it do for the team when you started to enroll them in something more than an enrollment goal but something higher? How did that go with the team? Was there much to get them involved in something bigger or more meaningful?

I think we have a unique advantage in the art space and working with kids that people sign up for this because they feel called or because they enjoy dance and they want to pay that forward. I want to share with you how we came up with this tagline of More Than Just Great Dancing that ended up becoming the name of the national business where we license our dance school systems.

I was MCing an event. It was for a local dance team and all these kids are coming in at the crack of dawn in the morning with their rollers in their hair, their giant bags, their costumes, and the moms with the coffee. You can picture the scene. They wait all day for their two minutes on the dance floor. I’m standing here as an MC and I’ve been in this dance world the whole time.

Somehow, seeing the culmination of all of the rehearsal, the effort, the early morning, the coffee, the hair, the makeup, the bags, everything for the 2 to 3 minutes on the floor hit me at that moment. I grabbed the mic. I kid you not, I think the organizers were horrified. I told a gym full of parents on the mic, “If you came here today for the two minutes on the floor or the award, you’ve completely wasted your time.”

The air sucked out of the room. I was riffing at this point. I said, “However, stay with me. If you came here because for the course of this year of study and through this long day, the kids learned how to get up when they fell down, how to finish what they start, how to care for even the weakest link on their team and how to work together in building life skills, because those last a lifetime, you spent the best money ever.”

It was like a slow clap in the gym. This was about year three of business for me. I realized at that point that I had finally articulated in one easy phrase what I spent probably 3 to 5 minutes sharing with you, that it is more than this core thing. Business has to be about more than dollars. Dance has to be about more than just great dancing.

EEP 84 | Business Lessons

Business Lessons: Business has to be about more than dollars. Dance has to be about more than just great dancing

 

For a business owner, the dollars earned and the dollar spent are fleeting. They don’t last. If it’s not about something more than the dollars, good luck staying in it. For dance, if it’s not about more than just some great dancing, then good luck staying in it because dance, if you think about it, disappears the moment you show it.

At least art stays on the wall. Dance, the minute you perform, it’s over. If it’s only about doing this physical thing, at some point, that dance ends for everybody. Whether they take classes for a couple of years or even through college and career, at some point, the physicality of it ends, but what they learn through it lasts forever. I wanted to focus on what everybody gets out of it, whether they dance for 1 year or 10 years or a career. That is that life skill piece. I think it’s such a great translation to business as well. It has to be more than the obvious or we won’t stay in the game.

You’re building people. You’re not just teaching them how to dance. All of our business owners who are reading, even if they don’t recognize it yet, I want them to take this on, but they’re building people through their business. It’s more than just great business or great profits or great whatever.

To answer your question, “How did you enroll the people?” We enrolled the people when they understood that this had a lifelong impact. This was more than about checking in, teaching a class, collecting a check, getting to the recital, or even getting a cute note or a Christmas present from a kid. This was about setting kids up for a lifetime of success that went well beyond our classrooms.

In fact, we have a phrase that we say that most of our dance schools will quote me for that says, “We don’t teach kids to make great dancers. We teach dance to make great kids.” When we started getting clear about that, not only did it help to enroll and engage the people who were there, but the people who were of the mindset that this was a job started falling off. The people who started becoming attracted to what we were doing were enrolled from day one. They were looking for that.

EEP 84 | Business Lessons

Business Lessons: We don’t teach kids to make great dancers. We teach dance to make great kids.

 

I would love to spend a little bit longer on that because I talk to people all the time about how you have to hire, lead, and fire to your vision. It’s a nice concept, but I’ve witnessed what you described more than once. It’s tricky for one voice to tell everybody else, “No, it really happens. When you get this right, it’s like a talent tractor beam that happens. You turn it on, the right people start showing up, and the wrong ones get repelled by it.” It sounds like you’ve had this experience. Say more about who showed up and why. How did they show up when you turned this on?

I want to talk first about who fell off. We’re a seasonal-based business, school year based. At the end of every year, there’s a contract renewal period. Some people, they’re college students. They graduate, they move on, they get married, they move out and we celebrate all of those transitions. What I saw happening in the middle of that contract season was when we started asking for more.

We started asking for engagement in community service. We started asking for people to nominate student of the month and do character development and book studies and all of these things that we thought could build in those lifetime life skill values for the kids. You start seeing the resistance. You start seeing whose appetite is whet for this. They’re hungry for it and they start going in, you start seeing the ones who are compliant, you start seeing the ones that become a little resistant and that’s okay.

When we got to our natural cycles, it became easier for me to identify those who I wanted to elevate, who I wanted to engage at a deeper level or to equip to lead programs, and those in that compliance area where I said, “They are neither maybe advancing nor harming the program and we can use some midfielders here while we continue to transition.” It became easier not to be so sad about some of those natural transitions as people decided they were moving on to other things. The first step is sorting out who’s in front of you. The more clear we were, the more clear that response was.

As we were bringing people in and they’re doing our hiring process, which is we get them through the phone and we get them in person, we get them in the classroom and they’re meeting other teachers and they’re doing a sample class and we have all of these steps. When they’re seeing that it is more than dance and to be here is not going to be punching a clock and teaching a class and checking out, it is going to be caring about the entire student journey from beginning to end in past classroom very easily. They’re self-identifying that they’re either looking for a job or they’re looking for a place to engage and to grow and that helped everything.

I don’t know that I’ve ever quite thought of it this way until you helped me see this. The difference between a job and a place where I can invest myself in my time. Something that I care about. It’s so huge and I’ve understood that for a long time, but it became clearer to me as you were talking about it. People are going to invest valuable time, energy, and brain cycles in something. They can either do that in something they’re passionate about and want to be a part of or they can meet a financial need to pay some bills and not engage at that level. It’s night and day difference the way that those folks show up.

You could put it down to this. Are you here only to be paid? Are you here to be paid and invest? I have such respect for school teachers. My graduate work was in education. My husband was a school teacher and I think, by and large, that’s a group of people who show up. Yes, because they are paid to do that job, but they invest. They invest their time, their heart, their soul, and sometimes even their own pocketbook to make sure that kids have what they need. That’s the type of heart that we’re looking for when they show up even for a part-time job.

What would you say to somebody who owns a plumbing company or a cleaning company or something that feels more like hands-on work that maybe some people would never see as purpose-filled? How do we help them believe that they can do this in their place of business? What you’re describing sounds so great like you’re building kids.

You connect with kids. Everybody gets the mission when it’s around kids. I don’t think anybody’s confused about that, but I love where you’re going with this and I love to speak to entrepreneurs and draw those parallels out. I’m going to give you a story that I heard from a hospital that was going through a season of transformation.

They realized in order to get their care metrics up, so low infection and whatever the outcome that they’re measuring is. If it’s they’re going through rehab, they want a high rehab outcome. This hospital was going through this season of transformation. They wanted to raise all of those positive markers and reduce all of the negative markers, whatever those may be. They identified that they were focusing on the wrong person.

They were focusing on the care provider. What they needed to focus on was the person who came in and cleaned the room. If you tiered up a hospital, probably considered the lowest paid or the lowest tiered or the least respected is the lowest education on the whole tier of employment at the hospital. They realized they had to make those people who were probably clocking dollars for hours and had considered it not a real mission behind it. They had to make those people the heroes of the journey.

They elevated the people who came in to clean the rooms as the ones who made that high level of care possible because they told them, “Without you cleaning this room, our infection rates are going to go through the roof. Without you getting this room ready to a high level of standards, the care providers are going to come in and they’re going to be distracted. They’re going to be off base and they’re not going to do the best work of the procedure at hand.”

Everything changed when they gave the person who did what might be considered manual labor or dollar-for-hour task work, the mission behind the management of that cleaning. I think there’s a version of that for every job that you’re talking about. I met a guy who was running a multimillion-dollar carpet business and all he sold was commercial carpet for massive apartment complexes. How do you get people excited about that? Talk about if not a dollar per hour, it’s a dollar per square foot or per yard. It’s a pretty transactional business.

He made it into a mission. What do they do? They equip these rental houses. Whether people are upwardly mobile and they’re being inspired to the dream of home ownership because that apartment is so durable and beautiful or whether or not they’re looking for a soft landing because something didn’t work out in their life. This is a place where they can rebuild hope and dreams. They’re selling carpets to hundreds and probably thousands of rental units. What a change that makes if you are an installer and you’re going up to either prepare a dream or a soft landing for a family. It’s a completely different approach. I think there’s a version of that for everybody.

I do, too. I’m glad to hear it. I’m glad to have them hear you say it, but they hear me say it enough. If you believe that your business can’t be purpose-driven or meaningful, that’s what you need to start spending some time on because until you fix that as the business owner, you’re going to be in a transactional place. You’re going to be looking for that next goal marker. It’s going to be meaningless to the people who you count on to make it happen.

I’ll share another quick story that maybe you have encountered, but it was it was personal to me. I had a student who took a summer job selling Cutco knives during the pandemic. Prior to engaging with her story, I might have thought that that would’ve been like a door-to-door vacuum salesperson, like the presentation you would want to avoid. I said yes because she was in alumna of our studio and I wanted to give her the opportunity.

I said, “I’m not buying any knives, just so you know, but I will listen to your pitch and give you feedback because it’s probably a great opportunity for you to throw your personal development skills.” Here’s this twenty-year-old kid who tells me the story about the founding of this company and how their mission is to make dinner time enjoyable in a rushed world, in a crazy time to make dinner to bring the family together. Do you know that I bought the entire pack of knives at the end of that?

I’m like, “I need that.” At the end of the day, it’s a product. I know the product does not change my family dynamic, but the promise is that if making dinner became less painful, I would gather the family around. Truth be told, we have made stuff together and we do have good memories out of that. No matter what you sell, there’s a way to take the extension out to the user and make it make a difference to them. If it doesn’t, get out. Get something else out.

No matter what you sell, there's a way to take the extension out to the user and make it make a difference to them. Share on X

Nobody buys stuff that’s stuck. They buy stuff that they need for some reason that has meaning to them as a purchaser of those goods or services. How can we better tap into that? Alright, very good. That’s been a fun line of conversation. Let’s shift gears for a minute. I’m fascinated to know, as you went from having a location where you taught dance and built up a team to now a national organization where you’re licensing your way of doing it to other dance studios, there’s a need to build a different kind of team. One that wasn’t great was people with kids who could do dance like that.

Now, there’s a new level of thing that you have to go out and I don’t know if you had to build a leadership team, and did any of your dance instructors move into that world? Did you hire from the outside? Tell us about the need to build a new team and if you were able to grow some of your current team members into doing that.

I tapped the people who were around me first, 100% absolutely because they understood my vision. They were closest at hand. It was a very efficient way for me to grow. I was able to tap a little bit of payroll out of the studio for the hours that I needed without having to hire somebody completely brand new to the brand-new business that had no resources.

There was some efficiency there, relational efficiency, financial efficiency, operational and organizational efficiency. It didn’t take too long before I realized that that probably was not a sustainable plan. We needed to hire, engage, enroll, and onboard people for this new team. Here’s what I learned. Building a team is not too much different than teaching dance. You take somebody who’s a relative newbie to what you’re doing and you take them through skill development, then you take them through skill mastery, then you take them through more complex things like choreography and ultimately at showtime.

When I was building the team for the new business, it was about getting those building blocks in place and getting their skills. What are the core competencies of what I need you to do? We’re talking about answering phones, building out customer accounts, and replying to customer service. We needed skill mastery and we started bringing coaches and we started to get into programs and get software so we weren’t roughing through it, like an untrained cage fighter.

That’s what an entrepreneurial startup is. It’s whatever it takes, we’re going to grit and grind and gut our way through this. It started to be a little bit more complex. Now we’ve got systems and processes and then pretty soon, you’re producing live on the road. What I’ve learned through my first career is that the process of people’s development from child to adult works for a brand new job all the way through that mastery and showtime.

I love the way that you frame that. A lot of business owners that I’m working with still see people as the necessary evil or the cause of a lot of headaches. They’re like, “Why would I grow this? It’s going to mean more headaches for me.”

I had a mentor and still a mentor of mine, Darren Hardy, and he once told me, “People in business will be either your greatest source of joy or your greatest source of pain.” A lot of where that falls is on us.

EEP 84 | Business Lessons

Business Lessons: “People in business will be either your greatest source of joy or your greatest source of pain, and a lot of where that falls is on us.”

 

You got to hold up the mirror on that one.

More than we’d want to admit.

The greatest source of joy and biggest source of frustration, it’s right here. It’s on us to decide which one it is going to be. We’re the reason they’re there in the first place. We said yes to hiring them. If they’re not progressing, if they’re not moving along, like you said, through skill development to mastery to showtime, who else is to blame? We can’t expect them to do it all on their own. We’d like for them to figure it out, but we have to help.

It’s so obvious to me again and I’m not talking to all dancers here, but talk about any sport. We all participated in some childhood sports activity and the coach never threw us on the field and said, “Good luck.” In dance, we have a curriculum and a scope and sequence and there’s a certain skill development path. Nobody would ever throw a bunch of 5- or 15-year-olds in a room and say, “See you at the recital in nine months. I hope it’s great.” We take such a curated, intentional approach to put those pieces together from skill development all the way up to showtime. For some reason, we have a hard time doing that.

Here is where I think the hardest thing comes from. We shy away from the discipline of process and from the necessary candor of feedback. That dynamic friction that happens when adult to adult, you have to say, “This is not quite right. This didn’t meet the expectation.” We’re good adults to child is what I’ve found. I have no problem telling a group of kids of any age or any skill level, “This was right, this was wrong. Do it this way. Try again. Your dress code’s not right. The show’s not ready.”

I have no problem doing that. Somehow, adult to adult, peer to peer, even if you are the boss or the president and they’re working fulfillment or customer service or whatever, we have a problem translating that adult to adult. I’m trying to normalize feedback, training, growth, and continuous alignment of talent to task and alignment of task to mission. For me, that’s been a big theme of the past few years.

In your experience working with people you’re coaching and developing and working with, have you found that they show up wanting to do the very least amount possible, not wanting to grow or perform? Do you think that they come with good intentions to do good work and they want to develop? Where are these people coming from when they show up?

Do you mean employees or coaching?

No, I mean employees. When you are dealing with people, are they generally trying to do good work? Do they want to do this stuff or are you fighting against the way they’re showing up?

It’s the same for both the people that we coach and for the employees, but it’s magnified in the people that we coach. I’ll start there. People want to do the thing that they’re good at that they’re naturally attracted to. If you have a list of 10 things to do and 8 are easy and 2 are hard, you’re going to do the 8 easy things and you’re going to drag the 2, what you feel are the hard things, not fun things from list to list.

In an entrepreneur’s life that shows up for a lot of the entrepreneurs that we coach. They would rather make the logo, the marketing piece, and the fun thing, the colorful thing, and maybe not spend the time working out the economics or the process behind that. It’s more fun and all three pieces are needed, but they start with the piece that’s more enjoyable. I think that’s human nature.

I see that in our employees as well. We break our tasks into whirlwinds and initiatives. Eighty percent of their job is a whirlwind, just the stuff that keeps going all the time. It’s the wind. You can’t catch it, but you deal with it. We have the initiative level work, the bigger rocks that we need to move that move the company forward. We have KPIs on top of that. We measure the key performance indicators that say whether or not the whirlwind is managed and we’re harnessing the wind not being destroyed by the wind and where we are putting down some big rocks. They will always still choose to do the thing that is most interesting and feels the easiest.

That’s why if you look out to a program like Dave Ramsey and financial piece. He says, “Do the small thing first,” because he knows that finance is not about dollars and interest. It’s about human behavior. It’s about getting people to get a small win under their belt, feel good, and feel like they can do it. That’s why he says, “Even if it’s the highest interest rate, pay off that smallest note first.” Maybe it doesn’t make sense economically, but he knows that economics don’t work unless people do. I find the same thing. We try to balance how we can give people some good wins and give them the discipline to tackle the stuff that needs to be done for the company.

EEP 84 | Business Lessons

Business Lessons: Finance is not about dollars and interest is about human behavior. It’s about getting people to get a small win under their belt and to feel good and feel like they can do it.

 

When you’re working with somebody on this, what does it look like practically from day-to-day and week-to-week? How do you engage them so that the focus is where it needs to be and any coaching or feedback, like you said, is happening along the way? You can’t be with everybody all the time. How are you moving this forward so that they pay enough attention to both what needs to happen in the whirlwind and the initiatives?

We’ve developed a set of dashboards with some help. We have coaches who have come in and I’m very aware that I have blind spots and I have my own version of wanting to do the shiny, fun thing and not to focus on the big rock that needs to move forward. We bring in coaches for our organization, for our people to help train us. One of the best things that we’ve gotten out of that is a series of dashboards that we have developed and personalized for our business that we are looking at every single week.

We’re measuring how we are harnessing the wind of the whirlwinds so that it doesn’t destroy us or wear us down and how we are keeping our eye on the ball of those big, heavy moving things that help us to grow and build a stronger foundation. We measure up to that. We have discussions around that every single week.

Another thing I would say is that we started with all of the measurement pieces and then we learned pretty quickly that we had to get their involvement in what we’re measuring. Otherwise, it’s, “Misty has a new system and Misty has a new thing that she wants to know about.” If they’re a part of identifying what is the most important piece of this ongoing whirlwind work, how do you see that you could do an initiative-level project, a brand new forward-thinking, earth-moving project that your department can support to support the advancement of the company? Once we enrolled them in that way, we got a much better buy-in on that weekly measure-up.

No amount of getting the day-to-day whirlwind done moves the company forward. I love hearing you make that distinction. We have to do future enabling work. What I heard you say is because you know yourself well as an entrepreneur, getting some structure in place that keeps us focused, some rhythm right there. There’s rhythm and cadence that keeps us focused sufficiently on the future, enabling work and enrolling people to create what that is. Otherwise, you’re just pushing it at them and they’re going, “Misty’s doing one of her things again and I’m heads down doing mine.”

Important points. Missy, this has been fantastic. Is there anything else, as you think back on your postillion dollar growth journey, you think, “If I had only learned this one lesson sooner or knew this thing was coming, it would’ve gone better if I had known this?” Is there anything else you want to leave our group with?

I’ll use a dance analogy, but I think everybody’s going to understand. When I started my dance school, I thought I had to be all of the styles and all of the ages. Let me be very clear, you don’t want me to teach a hip-hop class. You probably don’t want me over on a contemporary, lyrical, or ballet class. I’m not wired for that. In those early days, I felt like I wouldn’t be taken seriously as an entrepreneur unless I was competent in everything. I learned very quickly that we have areas of incompetence, competence, excellence, and unique ability. I wish I would’ve figured out earlier, that my job is to get as fast as possible into the few areas of my unique ability and spend as little time as possible, even in those areas of excellence.

I was an excellent teacher in the classroom, but I have a unique ability to build the structure around the business and to build how this whole thing goes forward. I had to give up what I was excellent at to focus on the thing only I could do and make room for other people to shine in other areas and not let that be threatening to my sense of confidence in leading the business. That has carried now into other areas. I don’t do my books, I can read the reports, but it would be an epic loss of my time and effort to become great at QuickBooks or to go get an Accounting degree because I’m great at other things and not to be intimidated by the fact that I am not the smartest person in the room on most of the things that run the business at this point and to be okay with that.

Thank you for sharing that. I hear people all the time, especially in an instance like yours, where this business began because of your love of dance because you wanted to teach these kids. Having to give that up at some point is a difficult transition for anyone. The only way this business grows beyond where you were is for you to make that decision, to let go of that, and let other people do it.

Brett, I have one more thing. If I could say, if there are any people with small, young families, this may be an encouragement. I always like to leave this because it’s easy to look at what I’m doing now and say, “She’s running these two large businesses and she’s having this impact.” For somebody reading and saying, “Life is busy and I’ve got this family,” I wanted to encourage you that if you’re in a season, maybe you’re in the sandwich generation. Maybe you’re taking care of your parents or you’re taking care of your kids.

This is being recorded in a time when lots of kids aren’t in school and we’ve become a nation of homeschool, not by choice parents. We just had to do it like. Be okay with being where you are and trust that if you prioritize what’s most important at the moment and if your family has to take the first seat right now and the business has to take the second seat, the career, the growth, or whatever.

I don’t know. I’m a faith-based person and I think that God honors that. I know there are lots of people right now that are struggling. The pandemic has amplified this dynamic tension between the home and the entrepreneurial dream. It used to be, “I had dynamic tension in the morning because my phone’s going off and I’m getting breakfast, but then the kids go to school and then I have these hours to pursue the dream and then I have to balance the needs of the business at night with my family.” All of a sudden, this became a 24/7 dynamic tension. If, for any reason, you are in that and you’re reading, you are not going to lose anything by being where you need to be right now. In fact, I think it will fuel your business when you get back to it. For whatever reason, I felt maybe somebody needed to hear that.

You're not going to lose anything by being where you need to be right now. Share on X

No amount of hustle overcomes the need for self-care. I think that self-care includes that core family, for yourself and your family. It can wait. The rest can wait. Make sure you’re well. In fact, the rest will benefit if you and your family are well. Thank you for sharing that very great piece of wisdom on the tail end of this. Misty, you’ve been a fantastic guest. How do those who are reading learn More Than Just Great Dancing or about you? How do they connect with you on social? Go to your website? What would you tell them?

Thanks for the opportunity. I love to connect after I’ve spoken with different audiences. You can find me online at @MistyLown. You can also connect at our websites MoreThanJustGreatDancing.com, MistysDance.com, or MistyLown.com.

Misty, thank you again so much for this time.

Thank you, Brett.

All right, everybody who’s reading, please make sure that you share these episodes. There are other business owners out there who need to hear from Misty and what she shared. Go back and re-read the episode, take notes, but more importantly, do some of the things that Misty has shared. We’re doing this to help as many seven-figure business owners as we can so that you don’t have to learn all the same lessons the same way that our guests have learned them. You can leverage what they’ve learned, maybe save yourself from some of the heartache, the headaches, and the trouble of figuring that out yourself. We love having you with us and be with us next time.

 

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